What is going on with the annual Showcase for Commerce in Johnstown, Pennsylvania?
More specifically, why does this seemingly random event in scenic Cambria County attract major exhibitor-badge-wearing delegations every year from the world's largest defense contractors?
The confirmed sponsors for the 2007 Showcase for Commerce extravaganza scheduled on 31 May to 1 June are a who's-who of Big Defense -- BAE Systems, Boeing, DRS Technologies, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and -- representing Johnstown -- Concurrent Technologies Corporation. (Two questions: 1) Where is L-3 Communications -- lost in Pittsburgh? 2) What is a "concurrent" technology anyway -- a more polite word for "redundant" perhaps?)
The DEW Line tries hard not to be cynical, but it can't help but recall that Cambria County is in the heart of the Congressional district for Representative John Murtha.
Perhaps the booth-agent legions of the defense industry are flowing into Johnstown for this event like a gushing river -- oops, bad metaphor! -- because they like the late-spring weather near Dutch Country.
Another possible explanation could be the proximity to Murtha, who is famous for many things but certainly well-known as the King of Earmarks. That word -- earmarks -- is the polite term for lawmakers using their anonymous discretion to fatten an already bloated federal budget with their favorite spending projects. Murtha's prime seat on the defense appropriations committee makes him a key benefactor, and he is known to love this part of the job.
Our spies in industry report that many attendees have another name for this annual weekend affair: Murtha-fest.